How Ali Krieger is encouraging others to pursue their Olympic dreams

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Ali Krieger's Olympic redemption story is nothing short of incredible. The 32-year-old soccer player suffered a serious knee injury back in 2012 which interfered with her ability to play in the London games. But that wasn't going to slow her down. In the past four years she's been training incredibly hard, captaining the Washington Spirit of the National Women's Soccer league -- the highest division of women's soccer in the US -- and playing as a defender on the US women's national soccer team. And now, Krieger is ready to come back harder than ever at this year's 2016 Rio Games.

Her career and road to recovery have not been easy, but in the end her position as part of the US Olympic team has been completely worth it. As she notes, "This is a dream come true." Now Krieger has been helping inspire others to push themselves to the limits. Partnering with Jif, she's been asking her fans "What if?" in the hopes it will awaken the dreamer in all of us.

We recently sat down with the Olympic hopeful to talk about her new campaign, how she discovered her love of the sport, and more!

#YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases rising talents. To see more past interviews, including more Ali Krieger exclusives, click here.

You're currently a partner with Jif Peanut Butter. Was that something that you grew up with?
Absolutely! It takes me way back to my childhood and every good memory of me playing soccer or playing out in the yard all include Jif. Not only did I eat as a child -- and my mom made the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, I also have it during our games at the highest level. We have it before, after, and during our games as an energy boost and light snacks. So I even have it now at the highest level in my career. Jif has always been part of my career and I'm so grateful to have partnerships with them. They have been amazing.

When did you first get involved in soccer?
My dad was a soccer coach and he played professionally. I think that encouraged me to play at an early age. He was highly involved with it and I remember always going to his games or his team's games. My brother played and I remember always wanting to hang out with him and kick around in the yard, so I just wanted to hang out with him most of the times. That's how I got started at such a young age at 6 years old.

Did you always dream about going to the Olympics?
Absolutely! It was always on my mind to play at the World up and the Olympics. To play at the highest level was my dream. Not even 1% of the entire world gets to go to Olympics and I always dreamed standing on the podium, hoisting the trophy with a gold medal around my neck. I know that to be the best you have to play against the best players and I think that's what I always wanted to do. I always wanted to play at the highest level and be challenged. I think that I just haven't stopped since I had that mentality. Playing for Team USA, you're playing for your country and a bigger team, and it's a little bit different than a world cup.

What was your first initial reaction to knowing you were going to the Olympics?
Oh, 100% I was focused on the responsibility. You're representing not only your friends, family, and teammates, but you're representing your entire country. I think that growing up, Team USA was always my role model. I always thought of them as the strongest women that I wanted to be a part of. I remember watching the World Cup when I was young thinking that I wanted to be a part of that group of women who were so inspiring and motivating. They really represent our country well and I want to do the same thing. Just having the opportunity to make the team now, looking back, and all that hard work I put into it is very rewarding. And now I'm at the doorstep of the Olympics and my very first one. The first one back in 08 I was an alternate and back in 2012 I was injured, so it hasn't been an easy road. But now I'm finally here after working so, so hard. This is a dream come true.

Current Mood. ⭐️⭐️⭐️🇺🇸

A photo posted by Ali Krieger (@akrieger11) on

#YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases rising talents. To see more past interviews, including more Ali Krieger exclusives, click here.

And for more on the Olympics, watch the video below!

Injuries Kept Them from Gold, Now These Olympians Have Another Chance

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